A Woman's Waiting

Under the apple-tree blossoms, in May,
Robert and I watched the sun go down:
Behind us the road stretched back to the East,
On through the meadows to Danbury town.

Silent we sat, for our hearts were full,
Silently watched the reddening sky,
And saw the clouds across the west
Like the phantoms of ships sail silently.

Robert had come with a story to tell,
I knew it before he had said a word, —
It looked from his eyes, and it shadowed his face, —
He was going to march with the Twenty-third.

We had been neighbors from childhood up,
Gone to school by the self-same way,
Climbed the same steep woodland paths,
Knelt in the same old church to pray.

We had wandered together, boy and girl,
Where wild flowers grew and wild grapes hung,
Tasted the sweetness of summer days
When hearts were true and life was young.

But never a love word had crossed his lips,
Never a hint of pledge or vow,
Until, as the sun went down that night,
His tremulous kisses touched my brow: —

" Jenny, " he said, " I've a work to do
For God and my country and the right, —
True hearts, strong arms, are needed now, —
I must not linger when others fight.

" Will you give me a pledge to cheer me on, —
A hope to look forward to, by and by?
Will you wait for me, Jenny, till I come back? "
" I will wait, " I answered, " until I die. "

The May moon rose as we walked that night
Back through the meadows to Danbury town,
And one star rose and shone by her side, —
Calmly and sweetly they both looked down.

The scent of blossoms was in the air,
The sky was blue and the eve was bright,
And Robert said, as he walked by my side,
" Old Danbury town is fair to-night.

" I shall think of it, Jenny, when far away,
Placid and still 'neath the moon as now, —
I shall see it, Darling, in many a dream,
And you with the moonlight on your brow. "

No matter what else were his parting words, —
They are mine to treasure until I die,
With the clinging kisses and lingering looks,
The tender pain of that fond good-bye.

I did not weep, — I tried to be brave:
I watched him until he was out of sight, —
Then suddenly all the world grew dark,
And I was blind in the bright May night.

Blind and helpless I slid to the ground
And lay with the night-dews on my hair,
Till the moon was down and the dawn was up,
And the fresh May morn rose clear and fair.

He was taken and I was left, —
Left to wait and to watch and pray, —
Till there came a message over the wires
Chilling the air of the August day: —

Killed in a skirmish eight or ten, —
Wounded and helpless as many more, —
All of them our Connecticut men, —
From the little town of Danbury, Four.

But I only saw a single name, —
Of one who was all the world to me:
I promised to wait for him till I died, —
O God, O Heaven, how long will it be?
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